Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is House Minority Whip.
Sam Husseini: When the Wall Street collapse happened and there was a Wall Street bailout, which you voted for I believe.
Steny Hoyer: Yes, as did Mr. Ryan, my predecessor [at the microphone].
Husseini: — Everybody was saying ‘We gotta do this and then things will trickle down to regular folks,’ nobody said that we should help regular folks and that will trickle to the big banks. Obama yesterday [sic, Friday] said that it will take time for regular folks to get better. Is that really defensible, to tell — it’s a big emergency for the banks but not for regular people?
Hoyer: Well I don’t think those are the facts, either. First of all, with respect to the September 2008 TARP piece of legislation, I voted for that because President Bush, Secretary Paulson, Mr. Bernanke and many, many others said that if we did not intervene very quickly and stabilize the financial community that we would have a depression, not a recession, a depression in America. I think that our intervention stopped that from happening, stabilized the financial community. Your premise that we didn’t do anything — very frankly, soon after President Obama took office, we passed a piece of legislation that gave very substantial help to some — as a matter of fact a third of it was a tax cut for working Americans. So I think that we need to focus on building jobs, on giving opportunities to people —
Husseini: — It apparently wasn’t enough —
Hoyer: — we have a “make it in America agenda” which I’m pursuing, which is trying to reinvigorate the manufacturing sector of our economy which has been growing but which needs to grow much more robustly, bring jobs home from overseas; keep jobs here. And the American public understand [sic] that we’re making things in America, giving them the kind of jobs they need, they will be in much better shape. So we need to focus on average men, working men and women. We Democrats have been doing that.
Husseini: On foreign policy: What about the constitutional role of Congress? We’re getting into wars — Congress has just abdicated its constitutional responsibility, hasn’t it?
Hoyer: Well Congress just had a vote, as you know, last week on the issue and chose not to pass a resolution that would have withdrawn our participation with our allies in an effort that’s supported by the international community in Libya. Clearly the Congress has seized of this issue and will continue to be. So there’s not going to be an abdication but clearly I think that the president needs to have a full consultation with the Congress and the Congress needs to express its view, as it can and as it will shortly when we deal with the defense appropriations bills.
Husseini: Saudi Arabia — [I wanted to ask about U.S. backing of the Saudi Arabia dictatorship.]
Hoyer walked away, but when another reporter asked a question about the budget, he walked back and made some additional remarks. At the end of his remarks, I asked: “On that very point, what about the ‘People’s Budget’ that’s been put forward?” — but Hoyer again walked away. The “People’s Budget” is a plan put forward by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. See this alert by FAIR about the plan and its lack of coverage, but another major issue is that the Democratic Whip is uninterested in talking about the plan of his fellow Democrats.
Fein was deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan and is author of Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy and American Empire: Before the Fall responded to Hoyer’s comment: “The Constitution requires an affirmative vote from Congress before the United States commences war, which did not happen as regards Libya. Presidential consultation or a congressional vote after the fact does not cure the constitutional violation.”
Francis Boyle, professor of law at University of Illinois, Champaign and author of Tackling America’s Toughest Questions responded: “After 60 days Congress must expressly authorize ongoing military operations, unless Obama asks for another 30 days, which he has not done. And Obama’s Libya War was unconstitutional to begin with. Obama should be impeached for this in order to end the war and uphold the Constitution. I am happy to volunteer my professional services free of charge to any Member of the US House of Representatives who wants to introduce a Bill of Impeachment against Obama over Libya — among other impeachable offenses.”
It was striking how Hoyer and Ryan epitomized the silence of the plight of regular people that Reich referred to earlier in the morning.